The Thing that Courtney Summers, Author of SOME GIRLS ARE, Doesn't Want You to Know

Even before I read Some Girls Are, I knew I wanted to interview Courtney Summers again. If you follow Courtney on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Goodreads, Flickr, AuthorsNow! BlipFM, FriendFeed, her blog, her book trailers, and countless other places (which can all be accessed through her website), then you know she never actually stops working.

I began to realize this after Some Girls Are was accepted and was going through the usual editing/proofreading rounds. Courtney spoke of being so many thousands of words into another draft--a new draft. How is this possible? I thought. There aren't enough hours in the day.

But what if she works into the night. What if she works all night? A shudder went through me. Courtney is Team Edward, but even vampires sleep. I went through her posts, and one word stood out that explained everything: ZOMBIES.

They never sleep; they don't need to eat; and they don't stop for anything!

Just think about it.

In any case, I was very happy when Courtney said yes to an interview with Summer Friend. I recently read her young adult fiction, Some Girls Are, and was taken by not only the tight writing and the excellent pacing, but by the way Courtney sent me back to the crowded halls of my own high school. Even though I'd never experienced the events in the book, the atmosphere, the attitudes, and the crucible that is high school were so accurately depicted in this book that I found myself once again caught but unwilling to look away from the machinations of a group to which I could never belong. For my full review, scroll down or click here.

And now, on to the interview!

Welcome, and thank you Courtney for your visit! Let's get right into it.

Some Girls Are was so intense. When you were writing, how did you come off the intensity to merge back to real life?

It's funny (well not really funny, but), but the writing and publication of Some Girls Are marks an extremely difficult time in my life. My grandfather, who I was very close with, died, and I experienced some personal upheaveals in 2009, when it was being prepared for publication. So I was basically sandwiched between the intensity of what was happening on the page and what I was going through when I wasn't writing; there honestly wasn't a lot of breathing room. Maybe that benefitted the book in the long run, but it wasn't until I finished the book that I was able to decompress and sort merge back to reality completely.

I know how hard that was for you when your grandfather died. I'm so glad that he got to see you succeed with Cracked Up To Be and to know that you were doing something you loved and excelled at.

An odd little detail I loved in Some Girls Are was that Regina found that secret spot where the volleyball nets were. I found a similar spot in my high school where the gym’s balcony had a folding partition. Were you like Regina—finding secret hiding spots and skipping out?

I was too much of a chicken to skip out! And I always wanted to! I wish I'd found a folding partition. My friends and I never ate in the cafeteria, so we spent lunch period searching for relatively quiet places to eat, but it was hard to find a private spot that hadn't been claimed. I remember the first--and last time--we ate on the steps outside of the drama room. Prime real estate!

Both CUTB and SGA deal with the inner workings of the popular group. Where did you exist in the high school hierarchy?

I didn't even exist on it! I was in a group of people that sort of hung around the outside. It was a good spot to observe, but sometimes I really wanted to matter more than I felt I did.

You have definitely found your niche now!

As Regina began to exact her revenge, I couldn’t help but feel a little bloodthirsty. How did you feel as you wrote those scenes? What music or other things helped keep you in that mood?

I actually loved writing those scenes. A lot. Probably too much, maybe. :) But they were so vicious and driven by raw emotion and it was fun to tap into that place while writing. Honestly, I was so amped to write those points in the book--because I knew the biggest moments in the book would be those moments--that it wasn't hard to get me in the mood to do so or keep me in the mood to do so.

Regina’s parents were largely absent and Regina didn’t confide in them. Can you give us a little backstory on their nescience?

I think when a book is about bullying, people really expect or want parents to play a larger role. They don't in Some Girls Are. The book isn't about them. I made that choice, not out of convenience, but because that's a reality for many teenagers. Regina's parents are largely absent because of their jobs, and they are largely unaware because--exactly, as you said--Regina doesn't confide in them. Growing up, I had a very close and very communicative relationship with my parents (I still do), but when I didn't want them to know something, they didn't know it (Hi, Mom & Dad!). I've said this elsewhere, but I don't think someone is ignorant because they are unaware of every thing that goes on in another person's life (whether that person is their child or not), and I definitely don't think you have to be clueless to be deceived, to be misdirected. Regina's mother attempts to find out what is going on and Regina misdirects her at every opportunity. Keeping secrets, manipulating truths, is--bad as it sounds--pretty easy. :) Annndd it was sinister to end this answer on a smiley, wasn't it?

Ha! You keep us wondering, Courtney. Very good point on the misdirection--I hadn't thought of that before, but you're right. Misdirection is easier/better than an outright lie, because misdirection takes only a nudge, just a slight angle off, to prevent anyone from seeing the truth. Also, I think sometimes parents might be relieved to not know the truth in its full ugliness, because that ignorance allows them to not have to act (in a situation in which they might not know what to do). They can tell themselves, Oh, it's just teenager stuff; everyone goes through it.

Courtney, thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us. Readers--intrigued? Check out Courtney's website to read excerpts from Some Girls Are and don't forget to watch the trailers--they're excellent!


C.K. said...

I LOVED Some Girls Are. Couldn't put it down. And I totally agree that it's not hard to hide things from your parents, or other people who are close to you.

I think often kids need more signs that their parents are really willing and able to cope with the truth. I hope parents, as well as kids, read SGA and that it prompts them to work harder at keeping lines of communication open.

As for Courtney's secret, uh-oh! I hope she's some kind of soy-eating zombie and not decimating the population of her town. This explains why she talks about zombies so much - to throw us off the scent!

Nice interview, Danette & Courtney!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I just read a review on this book a few days ago, and I knew I had to get my hands on it. As I'm sure you know, this is such a huge issue. I mean, it was back when I was a wee one, but I think it is so much worse now. Even in our nice clean Catholic environment it is bad. The scariest thing for me is the idea that my daughter wouldn't tell me if this was happening to her. Excellent interview!!!

courtney summers said...

THANK YOU for the wonderful interview, Danette! It was lots of fun...